Williamson County pursuing 15-year incentive deal for new Apple campus in Austin

Apple announced Dec. 13 it will invest $1 billion in a second campus in Northwest Austin.

Apple announced Dec. 13 it will invest $1 billion in a second campus in Northwest Austin.

Williamson County is considering reimbursing 65 percent in property taxes to Apple for 15 years in exchange for the tech company’s expansion in Austin.

Apple announced Dec. 13 it plans to invest $1 billion in a second campus in Northwest Austin and create 5,000 new jobs initially. The campus would be located on 133 acres on Robinson Ranch near the northeast corner of Parmer Lane and McNeil Drive, less than 1 mile from its existing campus at 5501-5505 W. Parmer Lane, Austin.

In exchange for investing $400 million in purchasing the land and developing the campus as well as creating 4,000 new jobs, Williamson County would abate or reimburse 65 percent of ad valorem taxes for real and business personal property for 15 years, according to the proposed terms of the agreement.

County commissioners will vote on the Chapter 381 economic development agreement Dec. 18 and will comment on the deal after the vote.

Newly elected Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell, who takes office in January, told Community Impact Newspaper the county still stands to receive property tax revenue from Apple because the land currently has an agricultural exemption, meaning the county only receives $78 annually. Under a hypothetical situation, at 60 percent reimbursement for 20 years, the county would receive about $1.8 million, he said.

Under the proposed terms the incentive agreement would begin on the first full tax year after Apple creates 700 full-time jobs. Apple would also agree to create 600 new full-time jobs every two years by the second through 10th anniversaries of the agreement and create 300 new jobs by 12th anniversary of the agreement.

Williamson County could terminate the agreement should Apple fail to build the new campus on the land identified, hire the required number of full-time employees by the set schedule or fail to pay its property taxes on time, according to the proposed terms.

Although located in Williamson County, the site of the new campus is still in the city of Austin limits; however, the city is not offering any incentives for Apple’s investment.

Apple received an $8.6 million incentive deal with the city of Austin in 2012 for its first expansion to build the Americas Operations Center at 5501-5505 W. Parmer Lane. Those terms included Apple building a 1 million-square-foot campus and hire 3,635 new employees with an average salary of $54,000.

Through the city’s agreement Apple will receive $8.6 million in tax reimbursements over 14 years. Apple received its first reimbursement from the city in the amount of $1,410,494.14 in October 2017, according to city records.

Jimmy Flannigan, Austin City Council member for District 6, which is where the campus will be located, said Apple not seeking an incentive agreement with the city for its next expansion is a testament to the value of Austin for corporations.

“The Domain is an example where Phase 1 came with a subsidy, but then Phase 2 and 3 have not required a subsidy,” he said. “It shows that there is a value in the city participating in the first stage of an expansion but the future expansions likely don’t need that level of assistance because the relationship is better, the community is stronger.”

By Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.


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